Israel’s supporters won a symbolic victory on November 21 against a BDS (boycott divestment sanctions) campaign to prevent Veolia from winning a massive waste services contract for the North London Waste Authority.
Because a Veolia subsidiary provided transport and environmental services in Jerusalem and the West Bank, BDS campaigners falsely accuse the French group of complicity in Israel’s alleged violations of international humanitarian law.
The battleground was the London Borough of Hackney council chamber, one of seven constituent boroughs of the NLWA, which was due to receive a deputation from the campaigners.
Hackney activist Martin Sugarman and Conservative councillor Linda Kelly sought the help of UK Lawyers for Israel, and we prepared a motion “that the deputation be not received”.
We contacted Labour councillor Luke Akehurst, who heads the advocacy organisation, We Believe in Israel. Councillor Akehurst liaised with the ruling Labour group, who decided to support Councillor Kelly’s motion along with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties on the Council.
Supporting the motion, Hackney’s mayor, Jules Pipe, made the telling point that Hackney did not have, and never would have, a foreign policy.
A joint statement by all three parties said that receiving the deputation could have given the incorrect impression that they were open to lobbying on procurement.
Receiving the deputation would not have observed the spirit of the council’s constitution and went beyond what was reasonable for local councillors to consider.